''When one teaches, two learn''. This quotation by Robert Heinlein has indeed been a motivating factor in my journey as a teacher. I realized its aptness with an incident that occurred early in my teaching career.
When I first took up teaching, the principal of the school where I am teaching asked me to take up standard II Mizo classes as we were short of teachers of Mizo at that particular time. I hesitated due to the fact that I was firstly, an English honours student and secondly, I had just moved to Mizoram. Having been born and brought up outside Mizoram, I had poor command over my mother tongue. Nevertheless, I had no wish to defy authority, and I thought 'What can be so difficult about teaching Standard II children.' Without too much preparation I therefore started with the lesson. As I continued, I came upon a particular phrase 'Vani an'. 'Van' literally translates as 'heaven' and 'an' is a green leafy vegetable. Being a student of literature, I tend to be creative and overly imaginative at times. I therefore interpreted this as 'food of the gods'. However, a little boy stood up and said that this was a common herb which they often ate at home. Much to my chagrin I found out that there really was no mythical allusion to the herb. To this day I'm mercilessly teased by my colleagues with reference to that incident.
This little incident has taught me much. More than the fact that preparation is required even for the smaller standards, it has made me realize my inadequacy in my mother tongue. Again this incident gave me the resolution to master Mizo. I believe that the credibility as a teacher comes not just from my training or what I myself learnt as a student. My experiences in the teaching profession and the incidents such as the one I have described have made me what I am today, a teacher of English and one rooted to my homeland.
As required of our profession as teachers, we teach and impart our knowledge to the students and we too (particularly me) simultaneously learn valuable life-long lessons from our students which guide us and remain forever cherished.
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Home Missions School,
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